Main articles: History of American football, National Football League, and College football
The NFL's New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers line up for a play.
Football,or it can be known as gridiron or American football outside the U.S. and Canada, attracts more television viewers than baseball, and is considered the most popular sport in the United States.
The National Football League (NFL) is the preeminent professional league in the United States. Through expansion teams and the landmark merger with the American Football League in 1970, the NFL has reached its current mark of 32 franchises divided into two conferences. After a 16-game regular season, each conference sends six teams to the playoffs, which eventually culminate in the league's championship game, the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest annual sporting event held in the United States. The Super Bowl itself is always among the highest-rated programs annually in the Nielsen ratings and worldwide. Some notable names in NFL history include Jim Brown, Dick Butkus, Terry Bradshaw,Otto Graham, John Elway, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana,Brett Favre, Joe Namath, Johnny Unitas and Lawrence Taylor.
Additional millions also watch college football throughout the autumn months, and some communities, particularly in rural areas, place great emphasis on their local high school team. The popularity of college and high school football in areas such as the Southern United States and the Great Plains stems largely from the fact that these areas generally do not possess markets large enough for a professional team. Nonetheless, college football has a rich history in the United States, predating even the NFL, and fans and alumni are generally very passionate about their teams.
Arena football, a form of football played in indoor arenas, had its own professional league, the Arena Football League, which operated from 1987 to 2008 and has indefinitely suspended operations.
Main articles: History of baseball in the United States and Major League Baseball
The most popular baseball league in the U.S. is Major League Baseball. Due to its 162-game schedule, it attracts more ticket sales than any other sport in the United States, and is considered the second most popular professional sport.
Fenway Park in Boston is the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball.
Major League Baseball teams play almost every day from April to October. The World Series is the championship series of Major League Baseball, the culmination of the sport's postseason each October. It is played between the winner of each of the two leagues, the American League and the National League and the winner is determined through a best-of-seven playoff. Notable American baseball players in history include Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio,Stan Musial,Lou Gehrig,Nolan Ryan, Hank Aaron,Mike Schmidt and Jackie Robinson, who was instrumental in dissolving the color line and allowing African-Americans and Latin Americans into the white major leagues. Today, some of the notable American players include Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey, Jr., Chipper Jones,Chase Utley and Randy Johnson.
Baseball and the variant, softball, are also popular participatory sports in the U.S. However, unlike American football, baseball is also popular in many other countries, notably Japan, South Korea and Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Venezuela. These countries are represented well in Major League Baseball today by players such as Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols, and Johan Santana.
Main articles: National Basketball Association and College basketball
The University of North Carolina Tar Heels (home) versus the Duke University Blue Devils